Marin Rental Market Update: First Half of September

It's been a busy first two weeks of September here for the Marin rental home market.

My team and I at Foundation Rentals and Relocation have been running this month!  Now that school has started and the kids are settling in it appears that Marin is back on the hunt to find that perfect (and ever illusive) Marin rental home.

The hits are up on our website ( and I'm noticing an increase in overseas visitors.  Hits are up from France, Germany and the UK and our website users are spending more time browsing rentals.  This is what we usually see just prior to seeing a spike in our relocation business. 

This weekend we had one of our agents out of town so we were a little short staffed.  The agents who were on (my husband and myself included) were running all weekend.  I have a new executive relocation client (CEO of a prominent website based in SF) I spent Saturday with, in addition to closing two rentals in Tiburon and in Fairfax.  My husband signed two leases as well (one in Larkspur, another in Mill Valley).  Our Tiburon-based rental agent Joscelyne got applications in on one of her great San Rafael listings, and last week closed on a 3bd rental home in Mill Valley and a 1 bedroom home in Tiburon.

My team and I are experts in the Marin County rental market and are happy to help anytime!  Our Marin office is open this week in Kentfield and you can reach us at (415) 507-9600.

Thanks for reading!


Check out this new listing in Madrone Park below.  4bd/2.5ba for $4,800 - call for more info!

September 12, 2010 07:51 by Darcy
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Marin Rental Homes and the Death of the McMansion

CNBC blogs today about the death of the McMansion.  So what does this mean for the Marin rental market?

The start of the blog reads:

They've been called McMansions, Starter Castles, Garage Mahals and Faux Chateaus but here's the latest thing you can call them - History.

In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of references made to the "McMansion glut" and the "McMansion backlash," as more towns pass ordinances against garishly large homes, which are generally over 3,000 square feet and built very close together.

What sets a McMansion apart from a regular mansion, according to Wikipedia, are a few characteristics: They're tacky, they lack a definitive style and they have a "displeasingly jumbled appearance."

Well, count 2010 as the year the last nail was hammered into the McCoffin: In its latest report on home-buying trends, real-estate site Trulia declares: "The McMansion Era Is Over."

Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 feet.

"That's something that would've been unbelievable just a few years back," said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia. "Americans are moving away from McMansions."

So what does that mean for our local market here in Marin?

My team and I have noticed the trend ourselves as well in our rental listings.  Tenants these days are looking for value.  Do they still want that designer kitchen?  yes.  Do they want it along with 5,000 sq ft?  Not neccessarily.

The rental market this summer has been spotty - we've had very busy weeks and fairly slow ones.  We've rented several high end homes, but we have several more to go.

The bottom line is that a well done, well-priced home will always rent.  It's a matter how much and how quickly.  But I will have to agree that if you had asked me in 2005 if a 4,500 sq ft home presents a higher value than a 3,800 sq ft home, you would have had an enthusiastic and loud YES!  That answer today is not neccessarily going to be the same.

My team and I speacialize in the Marin rental home market and are happy to help anytime.  Call our office at (415) 507-9600 or check us out on-line at



August 20, 2010 03:53 by Darcy
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Marin Rentals and the August First Week Market Update

It's been an interesting week for Marin rentals this first week of August.  Calls on rentals have generally been slow all summer and last week was no exception, but here at the Marin Rental Group we did close on four rentals during the first week of August.  

Our broker Christopher rented a Mill Valley home in Sycamore Park for $7,350 and a $2,450 townhome in Greenbrae, Joscelyne closed on a $3,800 condo with great views in Sausalito, and I rented a cute $3,995 home in Larkspur in the flats.    Our web traffic has been consistent, though it does look like we're seeing an increase in unique hits from Europe - in particular, I noted an increase in visitors originating out of Germany.  This might mean that companies have hired new executives from overseas and are looking to relocate them at the start of the third quarter. 

We are currently working with a handful of such relocation clients: a family relocating from Paris looking for a modern home with big bay views with a budget up to $6k, and another family from Europe looking for an excellent 5bd+ home with an expansive yard with a budget up to $10k.  We also have a local Marin resident looking for a central marin rental home with a pool for up to $8k, and a local Kentfield client looking for a 3bd 94904 rental home up to about $5k.   Agents and owners - let us know if you have anything that sounds like a fit!

My team and I specialize in Marin rentals and are happy to answer questions anytime.  (415) 507-9600  View our rented properties anytime at or our team website at

August 6, 2010 11:59 by Darcy
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JUST RENTED! Marin Rentals and Relocating Tenants

At the Marin Rental Group (our new DBA for those following the recent name changes as we start our own brokerage for Marin rentals!) we love our relocation clients!  I had the pleasure of working with a great couple this month who are relocating back to California from the east coast.  They were torn between choosing a Kentfield rental or a Mill Valley rental property - I told them you're not really going wrong with either choice.  Both Mill Valley and Kentfield offer excellent public schools.  Both offer reasonable San Francisco commutes.  And both towns have great local options for the kids: parks, playgroups, and recreational pools.

The deciding factor for this family came down to their long terms goals.  Ultimately, they want to buy a home in Marin after their other home sells.  And they don't want to have to change the kids' schools when they do find their "forever" home.  So what does that mean for their Marin rental search?  They wanted to rent in the town where they were more likely to buy.

And that makes a lot of sense!

There are several pieces of advice I give our Marin relocation clients: 

1) Address the budget.  Even when renting, with the high price of real estate in Marin you are not likely to get as much rental home here for your budget as you might think.  Consult a local rental agent early on so you have an idea of what to expect when you arrive.

2) Be realistic.  You're renting.  And you're doing so for a reason.  Tenants tend to lease Marin rentals because they are in transition: maybe you're waiting for your old home to sell.  Maybe your money is tied up in a new business venture.  Maybe you're uncertain if you will like living in a certain area.  The point is, you're renting and you won't be in your Marin rental home forever.   So once you have your budget set, get ready to compromise.  Sure, a gourmet chef's kitchen may be ideal, but what is most important?  Is it the daily commute?  Is it being able to walk to town?  Maybe a large, level yard is ultimately going to be more important to your day-to-day happiness than having that showcase kitchen.  You're not going to get everything on your wish list, so it's important to take time to think about what are really the features you can't live without.

3) Think long term.  What are your ultimate goals?  If you have kids, it is wise to follow in footsteps of my July relocation clients and consider your Marin rental home in the school district you plan to be in long term.  Even if the Marin rental you end up in is not "perfect" - your long terms needs may need to outweigh your immediate ones.

My team and I are local rental agents and we specialize in Marin rentals!  Call our Kentfield office anytime: (415) 507-9600.  Relocation tours, consultations and customized options available.


July 23, 2010 07:23 by Darcy
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What's for Rent in Marin County this Summer?

The Marin rental market is a constantly moving target: one minute we're slammed with an onslaught of tenants needing to move now, now, now...and then next we're making calls to our owners to give the "no-update-update".

So which is it this summer for Marin rentals?

Time will tell.  We had an unusually strong May and a very busy June, but so far July is a little quieter than we thought it might be.  My guess is that a lot of local families are taking summer vacations this year that they may have held off on last year.  Or maybe we saw the pent-up demand from last year's very slow summer hit early this year.

Or maybe we're about to get slammed again....!  I just don't know yet which way the market is going. 

What I do know is that Marin rentals move in distinct patterns, and if history is any indication, this summer we are about to see rentals in Marin go up in price and down in availabilty.  So tenants, if you're out there looking, take advantage of this random slow week in what has been an otherwise bustling spring/summer and make your offers!

And Marin rental owners, if your home isn't renting, the market may be out of your control, but there are a number of things that are not.  Clean your properties, tidy your yards and improve your long term rentals!  Great rentals attract great tenants - and no matter what is for rent in Marin - that never changes!

My team and I at Foundation Rentals and Relocation are local agents who focus on leasing Marin rental homes, Marin condos and Marin apartments for rent: call us anytime with questions!  (415) 507-9600.

Good luck!


Below is an excellent 4bd + office home just listed for rent in Mill Valley priced at $7,900.  Chef's kitchen and over 3,600 sq ft!  Should go pretty quickly.

July 14, 2010 12:49 by Darcy
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Summer and the Marin County Rental Home

Yikes!  We're working with a lot of clients out there right now and there is not a lot of decent Marin rental home inventory!

Tenants if you're looking right now, it's time to get serious.  I know, I know, a lot of rental homes around here are not perfect.  Some are older, smaller, farther away than you'd like ideally in your budget.  But Marin County is a very desirable place to live and housing is limited.  So sometimes you just have to level with yourself, be realistic about your expectations and look at what the market will actually deliver for your budget.  Today's market is very different from thatof a year ago, or even six months ago, so when you see a home that meets most of what you're looking for, go for it!

Owners, if you have been considering renting your home in Marin, now is a good time to do so.  There are a lot of quality tenants out there and we would be happy to match you up with the right one.  You can take a peek at some of our recent success stories here

At Marin Leasing Team we specilize in the Marin County Rental home and we would love to help. Call our office anytime at (415) 507-9600.

Good luck! 

June 29, 2010 09:28 by Darcy
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Marin Leasing Team Back in Action!

After a 3-week wedding/honeymoon hiatus, we are back home ready to get back to leasing our Marin rental market.

If you've missed us while we were gone let us know!  You can reach us at our Marin office at (415) 507-9600.  We're excited to get back to work and ready to hit the ground running!


The New Mr. & Mrs. Barrow



June 5, 2010 11:22 by Darcy
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HOT HOT HOT: the Marin Rental Market is Back!

What a difference a year can make!

The Marin rental market so far in 2010 has been one whirlwind after another: we're renting homes before ever bringing them to market.  We're getting multiple applications.  We have about reached our capacity for taking on new tenant-clients becuase we have so many who want our help!   Gone are the days when a property would languish: priced properly, our listings are flying off the market.

Ok, so "flying" is renting within 30 days, but still, compared to the 90+ days great homes spent on the market last year, 30 days is flying!  Still, homes must be priced properly.  A dated- 1970's home can rent quickly, but it needs to be priced at right price point.  We're still not seeing the skyhigh numbers of 2004 - 2007, but rents are up, demand is up, and we are running trying to keep up with everything.

So, Marin Landlords, If you have a home that is not renting despite this hot market, take a look at what you are asking.  Have you actually seen any of the homes in your neighborhood for rent?  What did they actually get - versus what they asked?  Be realistic - if you have 80's tiles and scuffed up floors, is it realisitc to ask the same rent as that brand new home down the street? 

Likewise, Marin Tenants, if you're looking for that well-done, 3 or 4 bedroom home in central to southern Marin close to town with a nice yard and have a $4k to $6k budget, be prepared to pay asking price and be ready to jump on a home you like...we did!

My team and I specialize in the Marin rental market: call us anytime at our Marin office (415) 507-9600.  Good luck out there!   Darcy

May 1, 2010 04:58 by Darcy
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Even Cowgirls Get The Property Blues

Back in the ‘90s, Tom Robbins’ imaginative novel was relegated into a forgettable movie – but the ‘Cowgirls’ theme was revived a few years ago in articles about skyrocketing property value appraisals (and consequently, tax bills) whose rise was the source of much gloom and doom.

At least today’s property owners don’t need to complain about rising property values – but they can (and do) worry about the tumble in book value. Since no one who owns Marin property bought it so they’d be able to lose sleep over it, how do you (and the cowgirls) make the best of the residential deep six?

The first thing you can do is to take a reality-based look at whether the property value situation has any actual impact on your personal finances at all. Retirees and safely-settled long time community residents often fall into the worry-free category. If you don’t plan on taking out a new mortgage, refinancing, selling or using your property as collateral for any other purpose, then a fall (or rise, for that matter) in property values is an abstraction as far as your future is concerned. In this case, the cure for the blues? Settle down with a good book; go out to the movies; plan your next vacation. And cut down on reading the financial columns.

But what if you are planning on selling or refinancing? What if a property down the street has just gone though a bank foreclosure, or one has made a short sale? What if your property value in May of 2010 is 15% less than it was in April? What then?

There are a number of ways to handle the situation, led by a first, common sense mental adjustment, which is to remember and appreciate the fact that all markets always fall, rise, fall, and rise again. In other words, the spring Marin property value situation is part of a normal and predictable cycle, the same one other generations have been through in the past. After all, it’s gloomiest at the bottom of any property market cycle. And it’s only after a market turn is underway that its rise seems as if it ought to have been perfectly predictable to everyone (because even cowgirls have 20-20 hindsight!).

After stepping back enough to recognize the greater picture and appropriate attitude adjustment, the next step is to dive into taking maximum advantage of the situation right now.

Positive steps include using the moment to make improvements that ultimately increase your property’s value. Remember the do-it-yourself landscaping you’ve put off for years? It’s largely overlooked until the moment when the prospective seller begins thinking about how those listing pictures are going to look along side all the other comparable properties.

Planting a shade tree this month can be astonishingly impactful even just three years from now. So can planting a row of gallon-sized bushes that will create a natural visual boundary later, or using a border spade with imagination and care to carve a pleasingly permanent edge between the grass and plant beds.

Once you begin to revisit the good feelings associated with pride of ownership, why not set aside a weekend to get rid of that peeling wallpaper in the bedroom? Not only will it transform the room, it will also help make the whole house just feel better.

So in case you’ve been brooding over how your property isn’t worth what it used to be, forget about it!

Even cowgirls get over the blues!

That said, while property values may not be at their peak, the Marin rental market is heating up for the summer.  If you have any questions about the rental value of your property in Marin, my associates and I are an executive rental team specializing in the Marin Rental Market.  Contact us anytime with questions!  (415) 507-9600.

April 29, 2010 04:34 by Darcy
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Marin County Rentals and Property Management


Your decision to rent out your property in Marin is either a planned step in your carefully-charted long-term financial strategy...or else an abrupt ad hoc defensive maneuver to safeguard your cash resources.


Either way, whether to use the services of a professional property manager will be an important decision that impacts your pocketbook and your lifestyle. Taking a thoughtful look at the pros and cons is an important exercise.


Some Marin property owners don't even consider hiring a property manager because they are long-time homeowners. After all, they haven't needed a property manager before, so what's the sudden change? The answer is more than the obvious one, which is that two properties doubles the number of details that have to be attended to. It's quality of life – your life – that can be the more impactful issue. When you are the property manager for your own home, you have control of the maintenance timetable. If a faucet starts to leak, you can decide to ignore it until the weekend when you have time to fix it. On the other hand, when you are responsible for a rental property, you have no such freedom: your tenant rightfully expects your maintenance responsibilities to be handled promptly and conscientiously because that is your part of the rental bargain. When you were interviewing potential renters, it may have seemed that you were the boss 'hiring' a suitably-qualified tenant. Once the bargain is struck, it's remarkable how swiftly the tables turn!


Many newly-minted landlords don't adequately account for the quality of life contribution a professional property manager brings to the table. The 'con' side is easier to understand: the bottom line will be reduced by the cost of property management services, and the whole point was to gain financial leverage, wasn't it? Another negative is somewhat emotional, and deals with the feeling of loss of control that accompanies turning things over to a property manager. You own the property because you are attached to it in some way, so turning its supervision over to a property manager may feel a little too much like walking away from it altogether. That feeling of distancing may feel like a loss.


A series of 'cons' deal with the possibility that a Marin property manager might not be as diligent as an owner in maintenance issues, particularly when it comes to having a long-term rather than quick-fix outlook. The counterargument is the point that a true professional property manager has so much more experience in all aspects of property care that he is much more likely to have dealt with any given situation that may occur. It is also true that the better the reputation and wider the satisfied client base of any property management firm, the higher the likelihood that your own outcome will be satisfactory.


In sum, the greatest 'con' is financial, and the greatest 'pro' is personal. By using a reliable property manager, an owner can free his time, free his mobility, and even free his attention for making other good investment decisions – in which case the cost factor is more than compensated.


And then it is also true that a decision to forgo professional management is never a permanent one. As one doctor is quoted, “I spent my whole medical career minimizing on-call hours, and suddenly my rental makes me on-call twenty-four hours a day. When I got a plumbing call on Christmas Eve, that's when I decided, 'never again!'”

My team and I specialize in renals in Marin County and partner with a local property management company to provide full service to our clients.  Call about your Marin rental anytime! (415) 507-9600

Cheers, Darcy

April 8, 2010 03:24 by Darcy
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